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|Steve Jobs, the true Mr Globalization|
|Tuesday, 11 October 2011 00:26|
Steve Jobs' products conquered markets in all four corners of the planet. These products made a major contribution to connecting the world's citizens. Large numbers of people, the world over, even learnt of his passing through using one of these products. And the amazing story of his life provoked an unprecedented global outpouring of grief.
He is the true Mr Globalization.
And yet, Jobs is very much a product of America, indeed California and the 60s generation. As President Obama said, "he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity".
One question we should all ponder is whether Jobs could have achieved the same success had he been born in another part of the world. Are there other potential Steve Jobs out there whose spirits are being crushed by authoritarian politics or conservative societies?
To understand the spirit of Steve Jobs, there no better place to start than his 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University.
In this speech, he recounts how he dropped out of Reed College after 6 months. He didn't want to waste his parents' hard-earned savings. But he stayed on and sat in on other classes like calligraphy. While it was of no immediate use in his life, he found calligraphy beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture.
But ten years later, it all came back to him when he designed the Mac, the first computer with beautiful typography. Thus, if Jobs had not followed the calligraphy course, personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.
His lesson is about "connecting the dots" in his life from calligraphy to the Mac -- "... you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."
The second story in his speech is about love and loss. He was lucky. He found what he loved to do early in life. He created Apple. But then he got fired. Being still in love with his job, he started again.
As it turned out, getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened. It freed him to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. He started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with the woman who would become his wife. He believes that the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
His third story is about death. Remembering that he'll be dead soon was the most important tool to help make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
He says "Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new".
His final advice for these students was "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish", drawn from a publication called The Whole Earth Catalog.
Of the many other things that have been said of and quoted from Steve Jobs, his comments on boredom struck me. "I'm a big believer in boredom", he once told Steven Levy of Wired Magazine. "Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, and out of curiosity comes everything". He even worried about the future of boredom -- "All the technology stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too".
As we reflect on whether Steve Jobs is a uniquely American product, or whether he could have succeeded anywhere, the comments of crooner Tony Bennett on Piers Morgan tonight are worth reflecting on. According to Bennett, America is ahead of all other countries because it does not have just one philosophy, and one way of doing things. America is a country of many different philosophies, peoples and ways of doing things.
Although Bennett did not make a link with Jobs, this rich doversity and complexity of American society is one of the great drivers of its innovation. Jobs was himself a microcosm of this rich diversity and complexity with his natural father from Syria, Buddhist religion, travels to India and experimental youth. And Silicon Valley is also such a microcosm.
The White House Blog -- President Obama on the Passing of Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs. Commencement Address, Stanford University. June 2005
Steven Levy, Wired Magazine. Steve Jobs, 1955-2011
Tont Bennett on Piers Morgan tonight